Over the weekend a video clip of an Israel Police officer asking a Jewish man to stop bowing his head while atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount sparked an angry online response.
In the brief clip, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man is seen sitting beside a pathway on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. He asked the officer if he is allowed to sit there, to which the answer is yes. The religious man then bows his head in apparent pray, and the officer immediately reacts: “I am going to ask you not to bow your head.”
The man filming the scene is then heard saying, “On the Temple Mount it’s forbidden to bow your head.” At least if you’re a Jew.
שוטר בהר הבית:”מבקש ממך לא להוריד את הראש”. אנא יהודים אל תורידו את הראש ואל תשלימו עם המצב הזה!!! pic.twitter.com/fTOiRrGrBW
— nati rom (@natirom) January 6, 2022
The reason for what amounts to a restriction on religious freedom is that the authorities fear an outbreak of Muslim violence if Jews are caught worshipping at what everyone else sees as an exclusively Islamic shrine.
The issue nearly caused an irreconcilable rift in Israel’s new government last year when a Jerusalem judge upheld Israeli law and ruled that it was not illegal for Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, or anywhere else.
That elicited a harsh response from the left-wing and Arab elements in the ruling coalition, resulting just days later in the judge partially walking back her decision.
For more on this topic, see: Will the Temple Mount Break Israel’s Unity Government?